Eyes on downtown 

For the past few weeks, City Council has heard from a lot of citizens who don't want surveillance cameras watching downtown.

Average Joes and Janes have argued the cameras are un-American, a violation of their rights, an invasion of their privacy, and a waste of taxpayer funds.

Council has also heard from people who support the cameras, like Police Chief Pete Carey, downtown business owners and stakeholders.

Ultimately, the big cats were more convincing than the regular folks. Council voted 6-2 on Tuesday to give initial approval to funding for 10 cameras in the downtown area. Council President Scott Hente and Councilor Val Snider cast the dissenting votes, saying they wanted more financial information before approving the issue. Councilor Lisa Czelatdko was excused.

Many details about where and when the cameras will be positioned have yet to be decided. What is clear is that the cameras will cost $163,025 to purchase and install, and about $25,000 a year to maintain. Their life expectancy is six years.

Volunteers will staff monitors with feeds from the cameras, looking for suspicious activity that can be relayed to police. The volunteers will be able to pan, tilt and zoom the cameras.

The downtown effort is considered a pilot program. If useful in deterring or solving crimes, they could be installed elsewhere in Colorado Springs.

Councilors gave similar reasons for supporting the cameras. Bernie Herpin and Angela Dougan said the cameras were a "force multiplier" for police. Jan Martin said she hoped that the cameras would have the intended effect, adding, "I really want to show support for the mayor and this idea."

Council will issue a final vote in two weeks.

Mayor Steve Bach proposed putting the cameras in the downtown area at the urging of his Downtown Solutions Team.

— J. Adrian Stanley

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